I never really thought that I would get into sewing bras. I’ve always been fairly small busted and quite content to wear RTW foam cup bras that make my body look a little closer to hourglass than its true pear shape. I’ve loved seeing all the gorgeous bras that sewists have made, but never felt the inspiration strike to make my own. I found a RTW brand that fits me well, bought half a dozen of the same bra, and replace them when they start to wear out. Except for right now I’m not small busted and I’m not fitting the RTW I’ve tried and I’m not stoked on the nursing bras that I’ve found. So what’s a sewist to do? Start sewing bras, of course!
The combination of nursing and gaining weight from pregnancy has brought my once ~32B’s up to ~34D’s. Whereas before, I could go without a bra with few complaints, the weight of these things is driving me crazy and I really need something supportive. (I don’t know how very full-busted women aren’t driven crazy by these things! They’re annoying and they get in the way!) I was going nuts trying to find RTW nursing bras that fit well, so I decided that now was the time to start sewing my own. I blame Jodi for having put the idea in my head because if it wasn’t for her, I probably wouldn’t have considered that sewing nursing bras was possible, and then Monserratt cemented the idea with all of her recent nursing bras! Hooray for other sewing bloggers being such awesome sources of inspiration!
I started with the Watson Bra – a basic bra designed for knits and without an underwire – as simple as I could get. I figured that since I hadn’t sewn a bra before and since I only get to sew in 10 minute stretches these days (seriously, my munchkin never naps!) and since my cup size fluctuates depending upon how recently I’ve nursed, it was a good place to start. For my first bra, I used a jersey that I salvaged from a maternity top I only wore once and hated the pattern but loved the fabric (which was from Minerva Crafts but seems to be sold out now).
I did make a couple of changes to the pattern. The biggest was to add nursing clips and a strap inside the bra to hold it in place when unclipped. I also lined the whole bra since I wanted a bit more support (and pretty insides) and the jersey I used is quite stretchy. I was actually quite surprised by how easy it was to sew the bra. It felt just like sewing a swimsuit and I’ve sewn a lot of swimsuits. I’d say that if you’ve sewn a swimsuit you’ll have no problem sewing a bra and vice versa – nice to know that skills transfer!
Since I had enough fabric I could salvage, I cut a couple pairs of panties (knickers, if you will) to match my green bra. I’ve never really been one for matching bra and underwear sets (I guess since I’ve always been too broke or too frugal to buy them) but I’m enamored. I’m going to have to do this again.
My green bra was such a success that I immediately sewed myself a second. This time I used the longline version of the pattern. I used a lightweight stretch French terry cloth (that I have absolutely no idea why it was in my scrap bin because I have no recollection of having purchased or used it before) and a jersey for the lining. I made the same modifications as my green bra and also changed the straps so they are wide over the shoulder since the normal skinny straps on my green bra cut into my shoulders by the end of the day.
I was a little disappointed when I finished the white bra since I had thought the longline would make it retro and sexy but instead it felt a bit, well, matronly. It has turned out to be very practical as I can wear it under slightly sheer or otherwise revealing tops (like a couple of my summer sewing flops) and it reads kinda like a camisole.
Being comfortable in my post-natal body has been a challenge for me, as I’m sure it is for many women. My body is such a different size and shape than I’m used to and I have so little clothing that fits, much less flatters, so I can’t even play dress-up to feel good. Surprisingly (to me), sewing these bras and especially taking photos of myself in them, makes me feel sexy for just about the first time since having a baby. And that’s pretty awesome. One more great thing about sewing!
Part of the reason I’m sharing these rather revealing photos is to take a stand with myself and remind myself that my body is just as sexy as it was before I had a baby, it’s just different. Another part of the reason is that, as a community of women, I don’t think we really share or talk about our post-partum bodies (Stephanie wrote the only post I can think of about it.). I know that many of us have had children but it seems that so few of us talk about or share what it does to our bodies. We apologize for our no-longer-flat stomachs, we make excuses for why we will no longer wear a bikini, we wish our stretch marks would go away. What we don’t do is celebrate. A woman’s body has to do some crazy amazing things to grow a baby and if it emerges with some battle scars, those changes should be celebrated for they helped grow a human. I hope that by showing I have a thicker waist, a flatter butt, stretch marks on my breasts, stomach, and sides, that I am different but no worse, that I can do a little bit to help other women (along with myself) stand proud at what our bodies look like.